Information on Education in Korea

The Academic Credit Bank System

The Academic Credit Bank system (ACBS) is an open educational system which recognizes diverse learning experiences gained not only in-school but also out-of school. When the learner accumulates the necessary ACBS-approved credits, he/she can be awarded a degree.


Credits are acquired primarily through education and job training institutes, part-time enrollment, certificate acquisition, and passing the Bachelor’s Degree Examination program for self-education. The ACBS also grants recognition to a learner’s diverse learning experiences, including prior course credits and various forms of learning.


Educational institutes are formally evaluated to be an ACBS-accredited institute offering courses which can be counted as university or college equivalent credits.


The Ministry of Education, the National Institute for Lifelong Education (NILE), and Provincial Offices of Education are involved in the administration of the Credit Bank.

For further information 

Korean High School ’s Grading System

From 2005, the evaluation system was changed to a grading system utilizing 9 levels or ranks. There is a level indicated in each subject. In the transcript, you might see students’ achievement in the following form or something very similar.

Spring Semester



Raw Score/Average Score (SD)




95/70 (10)

1 (532)



85/73 (11)

3 (532)

Units : credit units or credit hours per week.
Score : raw score of the student on a scale of 0-100.
Average : school wide average score of the subject in the given semester.
S D: S tandard Deviation .
Rank : student's level of standing on a scale of 1 to 9: with 1, the highest and 9 the lowest. 

Enrollment : total number of students who completed the subject/course in the given semester

The percentage of students in each level may be presented as follows;





















This new system uses a relative evaluation where we can find a student’s achievement compared to other students within the school. While this ranking system helps to compare a students standing with others within the same school, we should keep in mind that there are some schools which enroll only the top 5-10% of Korea ’s best students. Students in those top schools with levels of 8 or 9 can be better than students from other schools with levels of 1 or 2. In fact, to ensure a better evaluation of their high school records, some students in top-ranked high schools actually drop out of school and take Korean GED.


High School Graduate Equivalency Test for Self-Study Students

(Korean GED)

In Korea, the High School Graduate Equivalency Test for Self-Study Students is administered as a national level test by municipal or provincial education offices. Most colleges and universities accept the certificate for an acceptable qualification for college entrance.

The test administering offices issue a certificate and a transcript with scores of each subject with maximum score of 100. However, a transcript has no percentage or percentile ranks of the scores. Each school might set the minimum necessary score for admission to the school.

For further questions, ask the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) that is responsible for the development of the test. 


The Korean Education Market

Size of the Market

Korea spends more on education than any other member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In 2015 expenditures on public education amounted to 5.8 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). This figure includes spending on hardware infrastructure such as school buildings and computers, as well as spending on teachers' salaries and facilities management. During the same year, spending on private education totaled 18.1 trillion won (US$16.5 billion). This includes spending on after-school tutoring of core curriculum subjects required for academic advancement as well as classes in extracurricular activities such as music and the arts.


The following table shows per-student monthly expenditures on private institutes or tutoring for different education levels.

Private tutoring: $222

Primary: $210

Middle School: $250

High School: $215



The U.S. Education Center and U.S. Embassy


Some schools in the United States have policies that forbid the payment of commissions or do not permit them to retain a private study-abroad agency to assist in the recruitment of students. For these schools there are resources such as the Fulbright Commission's U.S. Education Center and the Commercial Service, US Embassy Seoul. The U.S. Education Center is one of more than 400 U.S. State Department-affiliated centers worldwide, with a mission to promote education in the U.S. and to provide educational advising in line with the State Department’s principals of good practice for EducationUSA advising and it's advisory statement on working with private study abroad agencies. Such advising services, many of which are offered as web-based information services, are generally offered free of charge to students, parents and others interested in study in the United States.